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Locke - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
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Locke
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Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+



If 85 minutes of just watching a guy driving his car on highways in Britain at night doesn't sound like your cup of tea -- well, I'm not going to try convincing you to see Locke. Writer-director Steven Knight clearly wants me to tell you "It's better than it sounds!" -- and, in fact, many critics are saying just that. But if the gimmick sounds ridiculous to you, this movie will probably play that way to you. On the other hand, if you're intrigued by the idea, the film will intrigue you -- I can say with confidence that Locke is never boring. But neither is it ever particularly surprising; whatever your expectations are, it won't likely fall short or exceed them.

Tom Hardy is a solid choice for the one screen roll in this entire film. To a fair degree, he rises above the script, which has its share of flaws.

It would be nice for all of Ivan Locke's in-car phone calls to be related to something other than the old standby of marital problems provoked by infidelity. Was there no other crisis Knight could concoct to confine this man in his car for an hour and a half? Apparently not. We learn that Locke is on his way to be present a the birth of a mistress's baby. "Mistress" is arguably misleading; the tryst is characterized as a one-time mistake brought on by loneliness in the moment. And the woman -- only ever heard on the telephone here, as with all the characters other than Locke -- waited for some time to tell him about the baby.

Locke doesn't want to be absent at the baby's birth. He has his own daddy issues -- by far the most heavy-handed aspect of this story -- and wants to prove to himself he is unlike his own abandoning father. His greatest misfortune in all this, it seems, is that a historic pouring of concrete for a skyscraper is supposed to happen the next morning under his watch, and so he's attempting to get all the logistics handled from his car after alerting a close colleague he won't be present as expected.

So, this car ride is just a long succession of phone calls on speaker, flipping back and forth between calls to work contacts and calls to his wife and children. As a result, nearly all of the dialogue is exposition. They say to show and not tell, but here it's all in the telling -- with the one notable exception of characters' reactions to the telling: the responses in callers' voices, and how Locke is handling this crisis as he drives toward the hospital where his child is about to be born.

In spite of the relatively unoriginal backstory, the characters all come across as genuine, both Locke and his many callers. These sorts of things really do happen to people, I suppose, and Hardy commands attention the entire time he's on screen. His performance isn't a problem, but there are blips in the script, such as the many times he talks through the rear-view mirror to the back seat as though his dead father is sitting there. That bit is overtly contrived.

Given the nature of this film's presentation, the 85-minute run time is welcome. There's not a whole lot that can be done with the cinematography, though, so we get quite a lot of dim shots of Hardy through windows with reflections of passing traffic and street lights, or the camera attached to the door outside the car. It's exclusively set at night, so all we see are cars and the road -- no landscapes. Presumably this is to keep the focus on the story, but some visual distractions would still have been welcome.

In the wrong hands, Locke could have been a spectacular failure of a movie. But in more competent hands, it could have been something a lot more memorable. As it is, this is a movie with an unusually compelling concept but a story without anything new to say. Finding a brand new way to tell the same old story doesn't make the story any less old. But, there is freshness to this presentation, and there's some value to that at least.

Tom Hardy behind the wheel is pretty much all you'll see in LOCKE.


Overall: B
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Comments
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: February 11th, 2015 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Tom Hardy is an incredibly magnetic actor. Very few could do what he does so successfully in Locke, where he remains the only person on screen for all 84 of the film's minutes and renders a performance as subtle as it is powerful.
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